Mature Acadian forest provides a wide range of environmental services that far exceeds the value of timber resources alone. Some benefits of mature Acadian forest include:
- Critical habitat – Mature Acadian forest provides important habitat features that younger forests lack. In mature forests, living trees of various ages provide multiple layers of forest canopy. Openings in the canopy provide sunlight to the forest floor, where regeneration takes place. Dead wood also provides important habitat, where standing dead trees provide food and nesting sites and fallen dead wood provides habitat for small animals and insects, lichens and mosses. Fallen logs also hold moisture, release nutrients, and provide superb growing conditions for tree seedlings. Forty-six of the 137 vertebrate species that use New Brunswick forests for nesting or foraging are dependent on these characteristics provided by old or mature forest. Some provincially and federally listed species-at-risk that benefit from mature forest include the Canada lynx, butternut tree, Canada warbler, and eastern wood peewee. A number of species that are associated with old forests are in decline, including the pine marten, fisher, and a number of vascular plants.
Department of Natural Resources, New Brunswick. 2013. Old Forest Community and Old-Forest Wildlife Habitat Definitions for New Brunswick; Noseworthy, J. 2018. New England–Acadian Forest Restoration: A Landowner’s Guide to Theory and Practice. Nature Conservancy of Canada; Loo, J. and N. Ives. 2003. “The Acadian forest: Historical condition and human impacts.” The Forestry Chronicle. 79: 462-474.
- Carbon storage – Forests can help to counteract climate change by absorbing greenhouse gases like Co2. This process is known as “carbon storage”. While all trees provide this valuable service, mature forests can store more carbon per year than young trees. Planting tree seedlings is a popular strategy in the fight against climate change, but protecting and maintaining mature forests can make even more of a difference in the near future.
Moomaw, W.R., S.A. Masino and E.K. Faison. 2019. “Intact Forests in the United States: Proforestation Mitigates Climate Change and Serves the Greatest Good.” Frontiers in Forests and Global Change. Volume 2, Article 27.
- Aquatic health and flood protection – Forests contribute to healthy aquatic ecosystems. Trees bordering rivers and streams provide cooling shade, water filtration, food, habitat and reduce flooding. Removing all the trees from a previously forested area of land is associated with increased overland flooding as well as erosion and sedimentation and increasing temperature in nearby watercourses. The presence of deep-rooted vegetation and trees along watercourses protects and anchors soils in stream banks, dissipating the erosive forces of the river and heavy precipitation. Forests also offer significant flood protection. They act like sponges during rainfall events, storing water and slowly releasing it to reduce the speed, height and intensity of flooding.
Cheney, T. 2020. “Fish River Forest: Clearcut Consequences in Salmon Country.” Atlantic Salmon Journal Winter 2020: 18-23; Bancroft, B. in Simpson, J. 2008. “Managing the Riparian Habitat” in Restoring the Acadian Forest: A Guide to Forest Stewardship for Woodlot Owners in the Maritimes. Advocate Printing and Publishing: Nova Scotia. p. 23; Community Forests International. 2021. Forests and Floods: Natural Infrastructure for a Green Recovery.
The preservation and restoration of mature forest in the Nashwaak watershed will improve biodiversity habitat for a wide range of native species, capture increasing amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, provide a healthier aquatic environment and improve flood mitigation.